Tag Archives: children

Cheltenham Literature Festival welcomes Joe Wicks and The Burpee Bears

Oh my gosh it’s back again! After going mostly digital for 2020 to navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic, The Cheltenham Literature Festival is back in the flesh with a program packed full of exciting events, and a Read The World theme. Running October 8th-17th 2021 there are a whole host of events so there’s definitely something to suit every taste.

I’m excited to have been invited to take part in a celebratory blog tour to celebrate the opening of the 2021 Cheltenham Literature Festival. Before I had my own children, I didn’t realise the sheer range of activities that were available for families at literary festivals, and the 2021 Cheltenham Literary Festival is particularly well catered for in this regard. From author talks, readings, workshops and crafting sessions.

The Burpee Bears by Joe Wicks

As part of the celebration, I was kindly gifted a copy of The Burpee Bears, the debut children’s book from lockdown favourite Joe Wicks aka PE teacher to the nation. I have to be honest, I didn’t do any of Joe’s PE lessons as I was on the early shift getting my work hours in before taking over childcare and homeschool later in the day, but I have to say Joe Wicks was a lot of the chat at work coffee mornings and my sister in law even kept up with his workouts on holiday.

In The Burpee Bears, Joe Wicks seeks to keep on inspiring families to healthy living, inviting readers into the everyday adventures of a family of bears as they get up, get moving and get outside for adventures with healthy eating and exercise incorporated into their fun.

Joe will be introducing young readers to The Burpee Bears (quickfind event LF01) at the Festival on Saturday 9th Oct 2021 from 10:00am – 10:45am and The Burpee Bears can be bought at half the retail price from the Festival Bookshop.

Find out more about some of the exciting events and books at the festival by visiting some of the blogs on the celebratory tour, or by visiting the #CheltLitFest on Twitter.

How to make a bookish 3D star ornament

crafts for kids 3d star ornament christmas decoration or placemarkerFor day two of my 12 days of blogmas I wanted to make some bookish star place holders that were inspired by these lovely thanksgiving pumpkins. A larger star would make a good photo holder.

What I really like about these is that you could make tiny versions to hang from the tree. They’d be good to make with older children as a STEAM craft activity as they’d have to work out the best way to rotate the shapes and how to coordinate the cut lines to create a 3D shape. Thicker card is best for this to ensure that the final star decoration keeps its shape and stands up independently.

Younger children will probably need a lot of help with this and an adult to do the cutting. When I made them, Phoebe decorated her own 2D shapes that I’d cut out ahead of time while I sat with her and made my 3D stars.

To make a 3D star place holder or ornament you will need:

  • A star template if you don’t want to draw free hand (I used a biscuit cutter)
  • Gold card
  • Decorative paper (book pages in this instance)
  • Scissors and/or craft knife
  • Glue stick
  • A needle
  • Fine wire to mount a piece of card or string to hang

How to make a 3D star:

  1. Trace matching star shapes onto the wrong side of your gold card and cut out.
  2. Smear the wrong side of the card shape with glue and stick on your decorative paper so that the gold side of the card is facing up. Allow to dry.
  3. Cut around the stars on the decorative paper so you have a star that is gold on one side with decorative paper on the other.
  4. Take two stars and sing a scissors or craft knife, carefully cut a line half way through the star- one from the top to the centre of a star, and on the other star from the bottom to the middle.
  5. Slot the two stars together through these cuts so they stand up by themselves.
  6. Using the needle, carefully poke holes through the top of the star, then thread with wire or string.
  7. To make a place holder, curl the wire in a spiral and then flatten as in my picture so that the name for the placeholder can be slotted in between the wire.

How to make a paper bird ornament

Five minute paper bird craft christmas robin easy for kidsAs part of the twelve days of blogmas I wanted to make some book themed Christmas ornaments, and I’m hoping to post one a day for the first twelve days of December.

I wanted to start with these simple paper bird decorations, which require no origami skills whatsoever but look really cute when the are finished. They’re a perfect craft for children as they really are a five-minute craft. I’ve given my paper bird decorations literary themed by covering them with pages from a damaged book, but you could easily use coloured card and bright embellishments to make them appealing for children.

 

 

To make a paper bird ornament you will need:

  • A bird shaped template (I drew around biscuit cutters)
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Two old book pages
  • Gold pen
  • Padded double-sided tape
  • Decorative thread
  • A yarn or embroidery needle

 

How to make a paper bird ornament:

step by step guide to making a paper bird ornament

 

  1. Trace the shape of your bird template onto a piece of card then cut this out
  2. Smear glue all over the one side of the cardboard and stick it to your book page. Allow this to dry then cut out the shape. Repeat this using the plain side of the card.
  3. Cut tear drop wing shapes out of the remaining paper.
  4. Edge the bird and wing shapes with the gold pen.
  5. Using the padded double-sided tape, stick the tear drop wing shape onto the side of the bird to give it a 3D effect.
  6. Make two small holes with the yarn needle and thread the bird for hanging on a tree, I found that two holes gives the bird better stability when hung on the tree.

More reasons I’m not reading books

Following on from my post a few years ago about why I’m not reading, allow me to introduce the newest reason I’m not reading books, and not writing reviews of the ones I do get to read.

Erin joined us in April, and between being pretty tired juggling pregnancy, a toddler and work I haven’t had much energy to write blog reviews of some of the excellent books I’ve read. She’s definitely worth it though and her big sister is a superfan.

Cloud spotting with her big sister

I’m hoping to start reviewing some more grown-up books soon, but in the meantime feel free to ask me anything about picture books. I read about ten of those a day. I might even start reviewing them.

World Book Day 2018

Before I had Phoebe, I always imagined that I’d be really into planning dress up and coming up with costume ideas for World Book Day. After all, books and fancy dress are two of my “things”. Then she arrived and, who knew toddlers could be so opinionated and their mothers so tired that making a World Book Day costume for a preschooler would become a hassle rather than pure fun?

This year, Phoebe wanted to dress up as Kwazii from the Octonauts, but she watches that as her sole TV privilege (then spends the rest of her time role-playing it with me generally cast in the role of a Colossal Squid or Sperm Whale, thanks daughter dearest) instead of reading the books and I was a bit fundamental about insisting that for World Book Day she dressed as a book character. I was willing to compromise at dressing as a Pirate because she does love The Night Pirates with the rough, tough little girl pirates who steal the grown up pirates’ treasure but in the end, she decided that she would like to dress as…..

Room on the broom costumeThe Witch from Room on The Broom. I think she was expecting the full cauldron, cat, dog, bird and frog works, but I didn’t have the stamina for that. It’s hard enough finding a broomstick in February! She had a nice time making an exact replica wand herself (with a little help), and already had the skirt and t shirt. The cloak and hat will come for Halloween and dress up play, and since the cloak is reversible, she can play Little Red Riding Hood in it as well.

I think she looks very proud of her work in the end. I’d imagine she’s cast a lot of spells at nursery today!

 

 

Wait, World Book Day was last week?!

Only kidding. I knew it was World Book Day, just about. I remembered the day before it when the a sign on the nursery door reminded me that children were meant to come in dressed up as their favourite book character. This post is late because I’m too tired to blog any more.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried talking to a toddler about who their favourite book character is, but even a relatively verbose twenty month old can be quite evasive on the subject. Throw in the need to cobble together at short notice a costume that won’t be torn off in a fit of pique and you face a challenge.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Peter Rabbit… or at least, bunny ears and a blue jacket.

 

The costume is, admittedly, not great but I had to admire the spirit in which she wore it. She strutted into nursery and glared at anyone who dared to call her Phoebe. As soon as they called her Peter, she hopped quite happily around the room and settled down quite happily for a snack.

As for me, I’m joining the ranks of parents not quite sure why World Book Day seems to be about dressing up and not, say, reading a book.

Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book?

After our visit to Cotswold Wildlife Park today (amazing, go if you can) we popped in to visit my boyfriend’s sister and I read Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Book by Lauren Child with my four and a half year old niece. It’s a great story for children, which sees a young boy called Herb fall into a story book that he has defaced and have encounters with fairy tale characters, including a very bratty Goldilocks. My favourite character was the queen he had drawn a moustache on some time ago.

It’s a beautiful book with a great plot, and while it’s not ideal for young readers who are just building up their confidence because of occasional backwards letters and upside down words, it’s a really fun book to read together. I hope it teaches children to look after their books properly!

I would recommend it to anyone who thought that Goldilocks was a naughty little girl and didn’t understand why she didn’t get into trouble when they were small.

What-the-Dickens by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire is probably best known for his Wizard of Oz spin off, which despite its flair, owes some of its fame to the cult status of The Wizard of Oz and the runaway success of the musical version of the book, Wicked. However, in his modern fairytale What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy, Maguire shows that he has the ability to craft his own fantasy world securely within the familiar confines of our own.

Ten year old Dinah waits with her big brother, little sister and adult cousin for her parents who have left the house during a deadly storm to find insulin. Their neighbours homes have been evacuated, but the family’s strong religious conviction has made them attempt to weather it out. With little food and no power, their older cousin Gabe tells a story to pass the time.

The story, he says, is a true one which happened to him during his child hood, and explains how What-the-Dickens, an orphaned skibbereen, or tooth fairy to you and me, comes to find his place in life, facing deadly challenges and making friends along the way.

Even as an adult I found the story charming and funny. If I was still teaching, I would include it in a scheme of work for 11-13 year olds. It’s an excellent starting point for exploring fairytales and mythology, as the modern setting takes us away from the traditional men-in-tights-and-women-in-need-of-a-bloody-good-haircut scenarios children expect from a fairytale. It’s also a lovely little tale about culture, identity and self belief.

If you have a small person between the ages of 9 and… well I refuse to stick an upper age limit on it, then you should get this book for them. Read it yourself first though!

Chinese New Year: Top Five Fictional Rabbits

In honour of the Chinese year, the year of the rabbit, my list of my favourite rabbits in fiction are as follows:

1.       Velveteen Rabbit The Velveteen Rabbit Margery Williams

2.       Br’er Rabbit from The Uncle Remus Stories Joel Chandler Harris

3. Peter Rabbit The Tales of Beatrix Potter

4.       Hazel and co. of Watership Down Richard Adams

5.       The White Rabbit Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll

Special mention to Rabbit of Winnie The Pooh fame.

Lettice Reading

To me, rabbits have always had a certain pluck and are far from the insipid little beasties they always seem to be portrayed as. That might just be as a result of my pet rabbits having bullied me through the years, but I’ve chosen my rabbits to reflect this, with the White Rabbit thrown in for a bit of variety.

I will never forget hearing the story of The Velveteen Rabbit when I was about four years old and how sad that made me. If you haven’t read it yet, then you really, really must. If you’re in the mood to weep over rabbits (well, you never know) one that has the potential to get me going is a poem by Roger McGough Rabbit in a Mixer Survives based on the true story of a little rabbit who fell into a cement mixer.